The frontman of legendary reggae band Toots and the Maytals, has died.


One of Jamaica's most influential musicians, Toots Hibbert helped popularise reggae in the 1960s with songs like Pressure Drop, Monkey Man and Funky Kingston. He even claimed to have coined the genre's name, on 1968's Do The Reggay.


Born in May Pen, in Clarendon, the charismatic and soulful performer scored 31 number one singles in Jamaica.


The youngest of seven children, he grew up singing gospel music in a church choir - but it was school where he formed his ambition to become a performer. And, thanks to his full-throated vocals, he was often referred to as "The Otis Redding of Reggae" - but he was always Toots.


His mother, a midwife, died when he was eight, with his father dying three years later. As a teenager, he moved to Kingston, where he lived with his older brother John (who had nicknamed him "Little Toots") and found work in a barbershop.


There, he struck a friendship with singers Jerry Matthius and Raleigh Gordon, with whom he formed the Maytals. In 1962, the year Jamaica gained independence from the United Kingdom, they were discovered by Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd, who signed them to his Studio One label.


Over the next 10 years, they released a string of hit singles including Fever, Bam Bam, and Sweet and Dandy. But the group hit a roadblock in 1967, when Hibbert was arrested for possession of marijuana. He served nine months in jail and, on his release, recorded 54-46 (That's My Number) - a reference to his prison number.


It became one of the first reggae songs to receive widespread popularity outside Jamaica, introducing many Europeans to the sound for the first time.


The group scored a UK hit with ‘Monkey Man’ in 1970, and, in 1972, Hibbert appeared in the ground-breaking cult classic film ‘The Harder They Come’ - which starred reggae legend Jimmy Cliff – where he hooked up with The Maytals.


Their (The Maytals) song ‘Pressure Drop’ was featured on the film's soundtrack - which introduced many US fans to reggae - and it was later covered by the Clash, cementing the group's reputation in the UK.


In 1980, they entered the Guinness Book of World Records after a concert in London's Hammersmith Palais was cut to vinyl and released in just 24 hours, with Island Records boss Chris Blackwell personally delivering copies to record shops in his Mini Cooper.


A year later, however, Matthias and Gordon retired from music and Hibbert continued as a solo act.


He assembled a new version of the Maytals in the 1990s and toured extensively - but made a more high-profile comeback with the 2004 album True Love.


Boasting new recordings of his best-known hits, the record featured a host of guest stars, including Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, No Doubt, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and the Roots.


It went on to win a Grammy award, rejuvenating the musician's career. He released a solo album, Light Your Light, in 2007 and hit the road for the Maytals 50th anniversary in 2012.


The following year, however, he was injured during a concert, and was unable to perform again until 2016.


Music in Jamaica which was an evolution of ska and rocksteady, had been called blue-beat or boogie-beat until Hibbert intervened.


"The music was there and no-one didn't know what to call it," he said in an interview. "And in Jamaica we had a slang - if we're not looking so good, if we're looking raggedy, we'd call it 'streggae'. That's where I took it from.


"I recorded this song (Do The Reggay) and people told me that the song let them know that our music is called Reggae. So I'm the one who coined the word!"


The Maytals were part of a scene that included soon-to-be legends, such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Peter Tosh, and Jimmy Cliff; and they recorded with everyone from the Skatalites to Prince Buster.

Hibbert recorded almost every day in his home studio; and recently released what was to be his last album, ‘Got To Be Tough’; co-produced by Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey.


"If you sing nursery rhymes, it is nothing” he once said. “You just blow up tomorrow, and the record dies at the same time. But if you give positive words, that song lives for ever."


The cause of his was not disclosed, but, according to his family, he had recently been taken to hospital with Covid-like symptoms before later being placed in a medically induced coma.


He died age 77.